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The Family and Medical Leave Act: How to make a request

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is in place to protect an employee's legal right to take a leave from work for a variety of reasons, such as to deal with an illness, care for a newborn child or assist an injured or sick family member.

If you're interested in requesting FMLA leave, it's important to understand the steps you must take. Your leave will fall into one of two categories:

  • Foreseeable absence: If you know you need FMLA leave in the future, such as after the birth of a child, you're required by law to provide your employer with a minimum of 30 days' notice. However, there are situations when this is not possible, such as if your child is born prematurely.
  • Unforeseeable absence: In this case, such as if a family member is seriously injured in a car accident, federal law only requires that you provide your employer with reasonable notice. The second you realize you need FMLA leave is the second you should tell your employer.

Depending on the circumstances, your employer may request certification of your need to take FMLA leave. You can work with the appropriate health care provider to complete and return this documentation in a timely manner.

Many people shy away from requesting FMLA leave over concerns of retaliation. While employers are not permitted by law to retaliate for requesting FMLA leave, this doesn't stop some of them from doing so.

If you're the victim of FMLA retaliation, don't wait to learn more about your legal rights and take action to receive compensation for related damages.

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